Season of fists and ripe concussedness!

— To alter Keats slightly as UD shares with you her excitement at the prospect of the return of university football… Those who scoff at the notion of student-athletes forget the contribution players make to the philosophy and physiology of violence. If our schools somewhat neglect their players’ brains while they live, this is amply recompensed by the postmortem attention lavished on their cerebral tissue. And the remarkable human wastage on-field prompts high-level discourse on violence. Dan Le Batard writes:

The gladiators who choose this particular career path are often shaped by broken backgrounds that help them arrive at football … with some sharpened and rewarded character traits that might not serve them as much away from the game. It is not a coincidence that the majority of football arrests occur during the offseason, when players have too much free energy and free time away from the [game’s] more disciplined violence …

This is not to suggest all angry, violent men would be good football players; it is to suggest you’ll find a lot of angry, violent ones in some of your best huddles. And football does a hell of a job of not only finding men who live on the edge of acceptable behavior but also feeding and needing them.

Or, as the words emblazoned on a cafeteria wall at the University of Oregon’s just-completed Ministry of War have it: EAT YOUR ENEMIES. Like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, like Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, the University of Oregon boasts a special room where it fattens its young; but UO goes those stories one better by plastering the room with propaganda. Kill! Kill! Kill!

Le Batard points out the traditional conundrum of university football: You can’t win without significant numbers of unstable violent people on your team; but tip over into too many violent people and you’re going to be in legal trouble.

The last time Colorado was championship good at football, Sports Illustrated reported that one-third of the roster had been arrested. Ohio State went more than four decades without a national championship … until Maurice Clarett. Nebraska went without a national championship for almost a quarter of a century … until Lawrence Phillips. You can find links between arrests and compromised standards and winning all over college football, from those notorious University of Miami champions to the University of Florida ones who had 31 arrests in the brief time Meyer was there.

You can point to outliers, but it is much harder to find big winners without criminal complications than with them. Heck, in 122 years of football, Vanderbilt has been to only four bowl games but two of them have been the past two seasons … as their coach now uses a helicopter to find recruits in the Southeastern Conference . . . and last month had to kick four players off the team for alleged sex crimes.

You begin to understand the symbolic importance of spindly idiots in spectacles and bow ties at the level of the presidency. And cutesy quoters of scripture at the level of coach.

Le Batard concludes that we want “the gladiators [to] be more civil.” But how can that be? We want to watch them eat their enemies. We want them and their enemies to grow bigger and bigger and bigger so that the spectacle of the meal will be bigger and bigger and bigger.

Because something is happening
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones ?

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3 Responses to “Réflexions sur la violence”

  1. UO Matters Says:

    For a slightly less poetical look at the “University of Nike” check out

  2. charlie Says:

    Amusing to read the apologia of Phil Knight by his most well paid satraps on the blog you linked. Mostly “look at all he’s contributed to the academic side, all the money he’s given to law school, library, etc.” Thing is, if Philface really cared about the future of U of O, he wouldn’t have moved his production facilities offshore, he wouldn’t be fighting to maintain tax breaks which allow him to avoid both state and federal taxes, which would go a long way to making attendance at U of O affordable, he wouldn’t be such a psycho in demanding that the academic side acquiesce to every marketing scheme to make the university nothing more than a pr gimmick.

    The fact that Oregon has the lowest tuition contribution to its universities in the nation makes it almost impossible for the average citizen to attend any of the public universities, never enters the discussion of the need for these flagship sports facilities. Naw, why create a decent education at an affordable price when you can have near illiterate footballers bashing themselves into a fugue state in order to market overpriced, useless sports swag. Priorities, people, we have to give Oregonians a reason to indulge in massive displays of alcoholism on autumn weekends…

  3. University Diaries » The new Ministry of War at … Says:

    […] the University of Oregon is […]

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